Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Abrahamic Covenant 7

Patriarch blessings are given by one who has been ordained and has the power to prophesy concerning the recipient's life. The blessing then becomes a personal guide, an inspired document or scriptue, to which the recipient can turn and gain strength and direction.

In our patriarchal blessings, our lineage is declared. That means that we are told to which tribe of Israel we belong. It really doesn't matter whether we were born as a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or if we are adopted in through baptism. The covenant of baptism, entering the waters of Judea, is actually what makes us become children of Abraham or children of the covenant. The making of covenants and the keeping of covenants is what makes us children of the covenant and heirs to the blessings extended to Abraham.

In our blessings, we may also find warnings. It is important for us to pay heed to these so that we can avoid unnecessary obstacles and so that we can call upon the powers of heaven in time of need. We are also promised blessings which are contingent upon our faithfulness and obedience.

Who was Abraham, and what blessings did he seek? Abraham was a faithful man surrounded by a world of wickedness. Even his own father sought to destroy him and offer him as a sacrifice to idol gods. Abraham knew of the blessings of the Priesthood that was held by Adam and by Adam's righteous posterity. He sought after the blessings of the fathers. He sought after the gospel of Jesus Christ and the promise of Eternal Life.

Abraham was a traveler. He went where the Lord asked him to go. While living in Ur the Lord directed Abraham to move to Haran. This Abraham did. Here Abraham prayed mightily to the Lord to receive the blessings of the fathers. Jehovah appeared to Abraham and covenanted with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, that his seed would be like the stars of the heaven and the sands of the sea, that the Messiah would come through his seed, and that he would gain Eternal Life. He also covenanted to give him a promised land. This land was the land of Canaan. While living in the land of Canaan, there was a great famine in the world. Abraham went to Egypt to gain necessary food. He was told by the Lord to share those things which the Lord had taught him.

The earthly blessings of the Abrahamic covenant include a promised land, a great prosperity, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, along with the Priesthood, for Abraham and his posterity. The eternal blessings include entrance into the Celestial kingdom because of the covenant of baptism, eternal marriage and increase because of the sealing covenants made in the temple, and exaltation and Eternal Life with our Heavenly Father because we have kept the covenants that we have made with Him.

Joseph Smith explained that when someone is baptized there is a literal physical change within his or her body, and he becomes an actual son or daughter of Abraham and has the blood of Israel coursing through his or her veins. When we are baptized, salvation is promised to us through the Abrahamic covenant. When we are sealed as husband and wife in the temple, the promise of exaltation is extended to us through the Abrahamic covenant. All of these things are made available to us because of the atonement of Jesus Christ and these blessings are contingent upon our faithfulness and obedience and upon our making and keeping these sacred covenants.

In Gen 17:10-12, we find that circumcision is the sign of the covenant. All of Abraham's righteous posterity had their sons circumscribed at 8 days old. This was an outward demonstration of their inner faith in keeping the covenant. The actual covenants were not found in the circumcision because an infant cannot make or keep covenants. But this was a promise to the Lord that the people would not forget Him, but that they would worship Him and keep His commandments and the covenants which they had made with him, and that they would teach their children and everyone that lived with them to do the same. After Christ's resurrection, circumcision was no longer necessary, since Christ gave the law and fulfilled the law. The actual covenants were made with baptism, receiving the higher Priesthood, and Celestial marriage. These blessings were to be passed on through Abraham to his posterity through the Priesthood power given to followers of Jesus Christ. These blessings are for those who make and keep their covenants with the Lord. We cannot claim royalty because we are of the seed of Abraham, because we will not truly be of his seed unless we make and keep the same covenants that he did.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:

“Abraham first received the gospel by baptism (which is the covenant of salvation); then he had conferred upon him the higher priesthood, and he entered into celestial marriage (which is the covenant of exaltation), gaining assurance thereby that he would have eternal increase; finally he received a promise that all of these blessings would be offered to all of his mortal posterity. (Abra. Abraham 2:6–11; D. & C. D&C 132:29–50.) Included in the divine promises to Abraham was the assurance that Christ would come through his lineage, and the assurance that Abraham’s posterity would receive certain choice, promised lands as an eternal inheritance. (Abra. Abraham 2; Gen. Genesis 17; 22:15–18; Gal. Galatians 3.)

“All of these promises lumped together are called the Abrahamic covenant. This covenant was renewed with Isaac (Gen. Genesis 24:60; 26:1–4, 24) and again with Jacob. (Gen. Genesis 28; 35:9–13; 48:3–4.) Those portions of it which pertain to personal exaltation and eternal increase are renewed with each member of the house of Israel who enters the order of celestial marriage; through that order the participating parties become inheritors of all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (D. & C. D&C 132; Rom. Romans 9:4; Gal. Galatians 3; 4.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 13).

Through the Abrahamic covenant we are blessed with property, priesthood, and posterity. The blessings of the covenant do not come without responsibilities. Abraham was promised that through his seed, or through the priesthood, all the children of the world will be blessed. We are commissioned as Jesus's disciples in ancient days to take the gospel to all the world. We have the responsibiloity to make the blessings of the covenant available to all of God's children, both living and dead. We also have the responsibility to keep the commandments and not break our covenants. We can help others receive the gospel through missionary work, providing temple ordinances, and by being examples of righteousness. This was the three-fold mission of the church: to preach the gospel; perfect the saints; redeem the dead. There is another part which has been added this year: to seek out and take care of the poor and needy. If we want to be equal in spiritual matters, we must become more equal in physical matters. It is hard for others to progress in the gospel light when they are concerned with obtaining their next meal.

(Please read the analogy made by Elder Boyd K. Packer. It is found in the lesson on You can find the link below.)

We have been given the Priesthood power in these last days to bless the lives of Heavenly Father's children and to prepare the world for His Son's Second Coming. No priesthood holder can lay his hands on his own head and pronounce a blessing upon himself. Both the priesthood bretheren and the general church membership, working under the direction of priesthood authority, have an obligation to share the blessings we have been given by inviting other's to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him; but inviting all to become chidlren of the covenant. The blessings of salvation and exaltation are made possible to all of God's children through the power of the Atonement and through Heavenly Father's children making and keeping sacred covenants, even the Abrahamic covenant.

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